We've all heard the term "food coma" before, and with Thanksgiving just a day away, it's a state that most of us are soon to end up in. Indulging in roasted turkey and sugary sweet potatoes is always enjoyable to the palate, but the bloating and grogginess we feel afterward is far from fun for our tummies. Have you ever considered what goes on inside your body upon binge eating?
It's common sense: The more food you eat, the more you are filling your stomach. The average stomach has the ability to stretch to the size of about 1 liter, and when you overeat, you are forcing your stomach to expand beyond this comfort zone. This alone causes physical discomfort, but surrounding organs may be affected as well. As the stomach becomes filled, it squeezes against neighboring organs in an attempt to make more space for its food content... Not so pleasant if you ask us.
Not only does the food you eat begin to fill your stomach, but the gas produced by it does, too. The intestines also may begin to fill with gas, causing bloating and abdominal discomfort. Additionally, this resulting gas may make you burp - an act that is never appreciated at the dinner table.
In order to break down all of the food you eat, the stomach produces what is known as hydrochloric acid. When food intake is excessive, the body naturally produces an excessive amount of this acid to try and process all of the food accordingly. This high acid content may irritate the stomach lining, as well as the esophagus - resulting in painful heartburn.
Activity also takes place in the brain when you over-eat. When you start to become full, your body releases a hormone called leptin. This hormone signals to your brain that hunger has been satisfied, and it is time to stop eating.
In the case that you ignore the fact that you're no longer actually hungry, but just stuffing your face for mere taste pleasure, the cells of your intestines may begin to release a hormone called peptide-tyrosine-tyrosine. This hormone also initiates feelings of fullness by binding to receptors in the brain. Depending on your calorie intake, it may even promote feelings of sickness so that you finally decide to stop eating. This natural reaction is easily demonstrated when you begin to feel queasy after eating an exceptionally large meal.
Insulin levels also increase upon overeating so that excess sugar in the bloodstream can be cleared. High levels of insulin are associated with tiredness, so this contributes to that inevitable sluggish feeling after stuffing yourself at the dinner table. And last, but certainly not least, over-eating can have a negative affect on the heart, as the metabolism has to speed up in order to burn off some of the excess calories.
Our advice? Enjoy your Thanksgiving dinner this year by taking it slow and savoring every bite! :)